Hungary: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Eastern European Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Hungary

Introduction Hungary became a Christian kingdom in A.D. 1000 and for many centuries served as a bulwark against Ottoman Turkish expansion in Europe. The kingdom eventually became part of the polyglot Austro-Hungarian Empire, which collapsed during World War I. The country fell under Communist rule following World War II. In 1956, a revolt and an announced withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact were met with a massive military intervention by Moscow. Under the leadership of Janos KADAR in 1968, Hungary began liberalizing its economy, introducing so-called “Goulash Communism.” Hungary held its first multiparty elections in 1990 and initiated a free market economy. It joined NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004.
History In the time of the Roman Empire, the region west of the Danube river was known as Pannonia. After the Western Roman Empire collapsed under the stress of the migration of Germanic tribes and Carpian pressure, the Migration Period continued bringing many invaders to Europe. Among the first to arrive were the Huns, who built up a powerful empire under Attila. Attila the Hun in the past centuries was regarded as an ancestral ruler of the Hungarians, this belief however is considered to be erroneous today[9]. It is believed that the origin of the name “Hungary” does not come from the Central Asian nomadic invaders called the Huns, but rather originated from a later, 7th century Bulgar alliance called On-Ogour, which in Old Turkic meant “(the) Ten Arrows”[9][10]. After Hunnish rule faded, the Germanic Ostrogoths then the Lombards came to Pannonia, and the Gepids had a presence in the eastern part of the Carpathian Basin for about 100 years. In the 560’s the Avars founded the Avar Khaganate ,[11] a state which maintained supremacy in the region for more than two centuries and had the military power to launch attacks against all its neighbors. The Avar Khagnate was weakened by constant wars and outside pressure and the Franks under Charlemagne managed to defeat the Avars ending their 250-year rule. Neither the Franks nor others were able to create a lasting state in the region until the freshly unified Hungarians led by Árpád settled in the Carpathian Basin starting in 896. [12].

Medieval Hungary (896 – 1526)
Main articles: Kingdom of Hungary in the Middle Ages, Doctrine of the Holy Crown, Árpád dynasty, Battle of Mohács, Comitatus (Kingdom of Hungary), Mongol invasion of Europe, Islam in Hungary, History of the Székely people, Battle of Mohi, and John Hunyadi

Medieval Hungary controlled more territory than medieval France, and the population of medieval Hungary was the third largest of any country in Europe. Árpád was the Magyar leader whom sources name as the single leader who unified the Magyar tribes via the Covenant of Blood(Vérszerződés) forged one nation, thereafter known as the Hungarian nation[13] and led the new nation to the territory of the Carpathian Basin in the 9th century[13]. After an early Hungarian state was formed in this territory military power of the nation allowed the Hungarians to conduct fierce campaigns and raids as far as present-day Spain. A later defeat at the Battle of Lechfeld in 955 signaled an end to raids on foreign territories, and links between the tribes weakened. The ruling prince (fejedelem) Géza of the House of Árpád, who was the ruler of only some of theunity territory, but the nominal overlord of all seven Magyar tribes, intended to integrate Hungary into Christian (Western) Europe, rebuilding the state according to the Western political and social model[14]. He established a dynasty by naming his son Vajk (later called Stephen) as his successor. This was contrary to the then dominant tradition of the succession of the eldest surviving member of the ruling family. Hungary was established as a Christian kingdom under Stephen I of Hungary, who was crowned in December 1000 AD in the capital, Esztergom. He was the son of Géza[15] and thus a descendant of Árpád. By 1006, Stephen had solidified his power, eliminating all rivals who either wanted to follow the old pagan traditions or wanted an alliance with the orthodox Christian Byzantine Empire. Then he started sweeping reforms to convert Hungary into a feudal state, complete with forced Christianity[16]. What emerged was a strong kingdom[17] that withstood attacks from German kings and Emperors, and nomadic tribes following the Hungarians from the East, integrating some of the latter into the population (along with Germans invited to Transylvania and present-day Slovakia, especially after 1242), and subjugating Croatia in 1102[18].

In 1241-1242, this kingdom received a major blow in the form of the Mongol invasion of Europe: after the defeat of the Hungarian army in the Battle of Muhi[19], King Béla IV fled, and a large part (though not as great as suspected by historians earlier) of the population died[20] (leading later to the invitation of settlers from neighbours in the West and South) in the ensuing destruction (Tatárjárás). Only strongly fortified cities and abbeys could withstand the assault. As a consequence, after the Mongols retreated, King Béla ordered the construction of stone castles, meant to be defense against a possible second Mongol invasion. These castles proved to be very important later in the long struggle with the Ottoman Empire in the following centuries (from the late 14th century onward), but their cost indebted the King to the major feudal landlords again, so the royal power reclaimed by Béla IV after his father King András II weakened it (leading to the issue of the so-called ‘Arany Bulla’ or Golden Bull, in 1222), was lost again.

Árpád’s direct descendants in the male line ruled the country until 1301. During the reigns of the Kings after the house of Árpád, the Kingdom of Hungary reached its greatest extent, yet royal power was weakened as the major landlords greatly increased their influence. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Turks confronted the country ever more often. The second Hungarian king in the ‘Anjou’ Angevin line also descendant of Árpád on the female line, Louis I the Great (I. or Nagy Lajos, king 1342-1382) extended his rule over territories from the Black Sea to the Adriatic Sea, and temporarily occupied the Kingdom of Naples (after his brother was murdered there by his wife, who was also his cousin). From 1370, the death of Casimir III the Great, he was also king of Poland. The alliance between Casimir and Charles I of Hungary, the father of Louis, was the start of a still lasting Polish-Hungarian friendship. Sigismund, a prince from the Luxembourg line succeeded to the throne by marrying Louis’s daughter, Queen Mary. In 1433 he even became Holy Roman Emperor.

The last strong king was the renaissance king Matthias Corvinus. He was the son of the feudal landlord and warlord John Hunyadi, who led the Hungarian troops in the 1456 Siege of Nándorfehérvár. Building on his fathers’ vision, the aim of taking on the Ottoman Empire with a strong enough background, Matthias set out to build a great empire, expanding southward and northwest, while he also implemented internal reforms. His army called the ‘Fekete Sereg’ (Black Army) accomplished a series of victories also capturing the city of Vienna in 1485. In 1514, the weakened King faced a major peasant rebellion led by György Dózsa, which was crushed barbarously by the nobles mainly by János Szapolyai. As central rule degenerated, the stage was set for a defeat at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. In 1521, the strongest Hungarian fortress in the South Nándorfehérvár (modern Belgrade) fell to the Turks, and in 1526, the Hungarian army was destroyed in the Battle of Mohács.

Through the centuries the Kingdom of Hungary kept its old “constitution”, which granted special “freedoms” or rights to the nobility and groups like the Saxons resident in Hungary or the Jassic people, and to free royal towns such as Buda, Kassa (Košice), Pozsony (Bratislava), Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca).

Ottoman occupation 1526-1699

After some 150 years of wars with the Ottoman Empire in the south, the Turks conquered parts of Hungary, and continued their expansion until 1556. The Ottomans gained their first decisive victory over the Hungarian army at the Battle of Mohács in 1526. The next decades were characterized by political chaos; the divided Hungarian nobility elected two kings simultaneously, ‘Szapolyai János’ (1526-1540) and Ferdinand Habsburg (1527-1540), whose armed conflicts weakened the country further. With the conquest of Buda in 1541 by the Turks, Hungary fell into three parts. The north-western part see map) termed as Royal Hungary remained under the Habsburgs who ruled as Kings of Hungary. The eastern part of the kingdom (Partium and Transylvania), in turn, became independent as the Principality of Transylvania,often under Turkish influence. The remaining central area (mostly present-day Hungary), including the capital of Buda was known as Ottoman Hungary. A large part of the area became devastated by permanent warfare. Most smaller settlements disappeared. The Turks were indifferent to the type of Christian religion of their subjects and the Habsburg counter-reformation measures could not reach this area. As a result, the majority of the population of the area became Protestant (Calvinist). In 1686, Austria-led Christian forces reconquered Buda, and in the next few years, all of the country except areas near Temesvár. In the 1699 Treaty of Karlowitz these changes were officially recognized, and in 1718 the entire Kingdom of Hungary was restored from the Ottomans.

Pozsony (Bratislava) became the new capital (1536-1784), coronation town (1563-1830) and seat of the Diet (1536-1848) of Hungary. Nagyszombat(Trnava) in turn, became the religious center in 1541. Parallelly, between 1604 and 1711, there was a series of anti-Habsburg (i.e. anti-Austrian) and anti-Catholic (requiring equal rights and freedom for all Christian religions) uprisings, which – with the exception of the last one – took place in Royal Hungary. The uprisings were usually organized from Transylvania. The last one was an uprising led by ‘II. Rákóczi Ferenc’, who after the dethronement of the Habsburgs in 1707 at the Diet of Ónód took power as the “Ruling Prince” of Hungary. When Austrians defeated the uprising in 1711, Rákóczi was in Poland. He later fled to France, finally Turkey, and lived to the end of his life (1735) in nearby Rodosto. Afterwards, to make further armed resistance impossible, the Austrians blew up some castles (most of the castles on the border between the now-reclaimed territories occupied earlier by the Ottomans and Royal Hungary), and allowed peasants to use the stones from most of the others as building material (the végvárs among them).

History of Hungary 1700-1918

During the Napoleonic Wars and afterwards, the Hungarian Diet had not convened for decades. In the 1820’s, the Emperor was forced to convene the Diet, and thus a Reform Period began. Nevertheless, its progress was slow, because the nobles insisted on retaining their privileges (no taxation, exclusive voting rights, etc.). Therefore the achievements were mostly of national character (e.g. introduction of Hungarian as the official language of the country, instead of the former Latin).

On March 15, 1848, mass demonstrations in Pest and Buda enabled Hungarian reformists to push through a list of 12 demands. Faced with revolution both at home and in Vienna, Austria first had to accept Hungarian demands. Later, under governor Lajos Kossuth and the first Prime minister, Lajos Batthyány, the House of Habsburg was dethroned and the form of government was changed to create the first Republic of Hungary. After the Austrian revolution was suppressed, Franz Joseph replaced his mentally retarded uncle Ferdinand I as Emperor. The Habsburg Ruler and his advisers skillfully manipulated the Croatian, Serbian and Romanian peasantry, led by priests and officers firmly loyal to the Habsburgs, and induced them to rebel against the Hungarian government. The Hungarians were supported by the vast majority of the Slovak, German and Rusyn nationalities and by all the Jews of the kingdom, as well as by a large number of Polish, Austrian and Italian volunteers. [21] Some members of the nationalities gained coveted positions within the Hungarian Army, like General János Damjanich, an ethnic Serb who became a Hungarian national hero through his command of the 3rd Hungarian Army Corps. Initially, the Hungarian forces (Honvédség) defeated Austrian armies. To counter the successes of the Hungarian revolutionary army, Franz Joseph asked for help from the “Gendarme of Europe,” Czar Nicholas I, whose Russian armies invaded Hungary. The huge army of the Russian Empire and the remnants of the Austrian forces proved too powerful for the Hungarian army, and General Artúr Görgey surrendered in August 1849. Julius Freiherr von Haynau, the leader of the Austrian army, then became governor of Hungary for a few months and on October 6, ordered the execution of 13 leaders of the Hungarian army as well as Prime Minister Batthyány. Lajos Kossuth escaped into exile.

Following the war of 1848-49, the whole country was in “passive resistance”. Archduke Albrecht von Habsburg was appointed governor of the Kingdom of Hungary, and this time was remembered for Germanization pursued with the help of Czech officers.

Due to external and internal problems, reforms seemed inevitable to secure the integrity of the Habsburg Empire. Major military defeats, like the Battle of Königgrätz (1866), forced the Emperor to concede internal reforms. To appease Hungarian separatism, the Emperor made a deal with the Hungary, negotiated by Ferenc Deák, called the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, by which the dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary came into existence. The two countries were governed separately with a common ruler and common foreign and military policies. The first prime minister of the Hungary after the Compromise was Count Gyula Andrássy. The Hungarian Constitution was restored, and Franz Joseph was crowned as King of Hungary. The era witnessed an impressive economic development. The formerly backward Hungarian economy become a relatively modern and industrialized by the turn of the century, although agriculture remained fairly dominant. Many of the state institutions and the administrative system of Hungary were established during this period. The census in 1910 (excluding Croatia), recorded the following distribution of population Hungarian 54.5% Romanian 16.1%, Slovak 10.7%, and German 10.4%.The largest religious denomination was the Roman Catholic (49.3%), followed by the Calvinist (14.3%), Greek Orthodox (12.8%), Greek Catholic (11.0%), Lutheran (7.1%), and Jewish (5.0%) religions. In 1910, 6.37% of the population were eligible to vote in elections due to census.

In First World War Austria-Hungary was fighting on the side of Germany, Bulgaria and Turkey . With great difficulty, the Central Powers, as they were called, conquered Serbia and Romania but could not make significant progress against Italy. By 1918, the economic situation has deteriorated, uprisings in the army became commonplace, Entente troops landed in Greece and the personal union with Austria was dissolved in October 1918.

Between the two world wars (1918-1941)
Main articles: Hungarian Soviet Republic and Hungarian Communist Party, Béla Kun, Hungarian Revolutionary War, Conflict between Charles IV of Hungary and Miklós Horthy, Hungary between the two world wars, Hungarian interwar economy, First Vienna Award, and Second Vienna Award

In 1918, as a result of defeat in World War I, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy collapsed. On October 31, 1918, the success of the Aster Revolution in Budapest brought the liberal count Mihály Károlyi to power as Prime-Minister. By February 1919 the government had lost all popular support, having failed on the domestic and military fronts. On March 21, after the Entente military representative demanded more territorial concessions from Hungary, Károlyi resigned. The Communist Party of Hungary came to power, led by Béla Kun, and proclaimed the Hungarian Soviet Republic. The Communists – “The Reds” – came to power largely thanks to being the only group with an organized fighting force, and they promised that Hungary would defend its territory (possibly with the help of the Soviet Red Army). The Communists also promised equality and social justice. Initially, Kun’s regime achieved some impressive military successes: the Hungarian Red Army, under the lead of the genius strategist, Colonel Aurél Stromfeld, ousted Czech troops from the north and planned to march against the Romanian army in the east. In terms of domestic policy, the Communist government nationalized industrial and commercial enterprises, socialized housing, transport, banking, medicine, cultural institutions, and all landholdings of more than 400,000 square metres. Still, the popular support of the Communists proved to be short-lived. In the aftermath of a coup attempt, the government took a series of actions called the Red Terror, murdering several hundred people, which alienated much of the population. The Soviet Red Army was never able to aid the new Hungarian republic. Although it did not lose any battles, the Hungarian Red Army gave up land under pressure from the Entente. In the face of domestic backlash and an advancing Romanian force, Béla Kun and most of his comrades fled to Austria, while Budapest was occupied on August 6. All these events, and in particular the final military defeat, led to a deep feeling of dislike among the general population against the Soviet Union (which had not kept its promise to offer military assistance) and the Jews (since many members of Kun’s government were Jewish, making it easy to blame the Jews for the government’s mistakes). The new fighting force in Hungary were the Conservative counter-revolutionaries – the “Whites”. These, who had been organizing in Vienna and established a counter-government in Szeged, assumed power, led by István Bethlen, a Transylvanian aristocrat, and Miklós Horthy, the former commander-in-chief of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. Starting in Western Hungary and spreading throughout the country, a White Terror began by other half-regular and half-militarist detachments (as the police power crashed, there were no serious national regular forces and authorities), and many Communists and other leftists were executed without trial. Radical Whites launched pogroms against the Jews, displayed as the cause of all the difficulties of Hungary. The leaving Romanian army pillaged the country: livestock, machinery and agricultural products were carried to Romania in hundreds of freight cars. [23][24] The estimated property damage of their activity was so much that the international peace conference in 1919 did not require Hungary to pay war redemption to Romania.[citation needed] On November 16, with the consent of Romanian forces, Horthy’s army marched into Budapest. His government gradually restored security, stopped terror, and set up authorities, but thousands of sympathizers of the Károlyi and Kun regimes were imprisoned. Radical political movements were suppressed. In March, the parliament restored the Hungarian monarchy but postponed electing a king until civil disorder had subsided. Instead, Miklos Horthy was elected Regent and was empowered, among other things, to appoint Hungary’s Prime Minister, veto legislation, convene or dissolve the parliament, and command the armed forces.

Hungary’s signing of the Treaty of Trianon on June 4, 1920, ratified the country’s dismemberment. The territorial provisions of the treaty, which ensured continued discord between Hungary and its neighbors, required Hungary to surrender more than two-thirds of its pre-war lands. Nearly one-third of the 10 million ethnic Hungarians found themselves outside the diminished homeland. The country’s ethnic composition was left almost homogeneous, Hungarians constituting about 90% of the population, Germans made up about 6%, and Slovaks, Croats, Romanians, Jews and Gypsies accounted for the remainder.[citation needed] New international borders separated Hungary’s industrial base from its sources of raw materials and its former markets for agricultural and industrial products. Hungary lost 84% of its timber resources, 43% of its arable land, and 83% of its iron ore.[citation needed] Because most of the country’s pre-war industry was concentrated near Budapest, Hungary retained about 51% of its industrial population, 56% of its industry, 82% of its heavy industry, and 70% of its banks.[citation needed] Horthy appointed Count Pál Teleki as Prime Minister in July 1920. His right-wing government issued a numerus clausus law, limiting admission of “political insecure elements” (these were often Jews) to universities and, in order to quiet rural discontent, took initial steps toward fulfilling a promise of major land reform by dividing about 3,850 km² from the largest estates into smallholdings. Teleki’s government resigned, however, after, Charles IV, unsuccessfully attempted to retake Hungary’s throne in March 1921. King Charles’s return produced split parties between conservatives who favored a Habsburg restoration and nationalist right-wing radicals who supported election of a Hungarian king. Count István Bethlen, a non-affiliated right-wing member of the parliament, took advantage of this rift forming a new Party of Unity under his leadership. Horthy then appointed Bethlen prime minister. Charles IV died soon after he failed a second time to reclaim the throne in October 1921. (For more detail on Charles’s attempts to retake the throne, see Charles IV of Hungary’s conflict with Miklós Horthy.)

As prime minister, Bethlen dominated Hungarian politics between 1921 and 1931. He fashioned a political machine by amending the electoral law, providing jobs in the expanding bureaucracy to his supporters, and manipulating elections in rural areas. Bethlen restored order to the country by giving the radical counterrevolutionaries payoffs and government jobs in exchange for ceasing their campaign of terror against Jews and leftists. In 1921, he made a deal with the Social Democrats and trade unions (called Bethlen-Peyer Pact), agreeing, among other things, to legalize their activities and free political prisoners in return for their pledge to refrain from spreading anti-Hungarian propaganda, calling political strikes, and organizing the peasantry. Bethlen brought Hungary into the League of Nations in 1922 and out of international isolation by signing a treaty of friendship with Italy in 1927. The revision of the Treaty of Trianon rose to the top of Hungary’s political agenda and the strategy employed by Bethlen consisted by strengthening the economy and building relations with stronger nations. Revision of the treaty had such a broad backing in Hungary that Bethlen used it, at least in part, to deflect criticism of his economic, social, and political policies. The Great Depression induced a drop in the standard of living and the political mood of the country shifted further toward the right. In 1932 Horthy appointed a new prime-minister, Gyula Gömbös, that changed the course of Hungarian policy towards closer cooperation with Germany and started an effort to magyarize the few remaining ethnic minorities in Hungary. Gömbös signed a trade agreement with Germany that drew Hungary’s economy out of depression but made Hungary dependent on the German economy for both raw materials and markets. Adolf Hitler used promises of returning lost territories, and threats of military intervention and economic pressure to compel Hungarians into supporting Nazi policies, including those related to Jews. Imrédy’s attempts to improve Hungary’s diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom initially made him very unpopular with Germany and Italy. Undoubtedly aware of Germany’s Anschluss with Austria in March, he realized that he could not afford to alienate Germany and Italy on a long-term basis; in the autumn of 1938 his foreign policy became very much pro-German and pro-Italian. [25] Intent on amassing a base of power in Hungarian right-wing politics, Imrédy began to suppress political rivals, so the increasingly influential Arrow Cross Party was harassed, and eventually banned by Imrédy’s administration. As Imrédy drifted further to the right, he proposed that the government be reorganized along totalitarian lines and drafted a harsher Second Jewish Law. The new government of Pál Teleki approved the Second Jewish Law, which greatly restricted Jewish employment and defined Jews by race instead of religion. This definition altered the status of those who had formerly converted from Judaism to Christianity.

Hungary in World War II (1941-1945)

After being awarded by the Germans and Italians part of southern Chechoslovakia and Subcarpathia in the First Vienna Award of 1938, and then northern Transylvania in the Second Vienna Award of 1940, in 1941 Hungary participated in their first military maneuvers on the side of the Axis. Thus, Hungary was part in the invasion of Yugoslavia, gaining some more territory but effectively joining the Axis powers in the process (showing his non-agreement, prime minister Pál Teleki committed suicide). On 22 June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union using the code name Operation Barbarossa. Hungary joined the German effort and declared war on the Soviet Union on 26 June, and entered World War II on the side of the Axis. In late 1941, the Hungarian troops on the Eastern Front experienced success at the Battle of Uman. By 1943, after the Hungarian Second Army suffered extremely heavy losses at the river Don, the Hungarian government sought to negotiate a surrender with the Allies. On 19 March 1944, as a result of this duplicity, German troops quietly occupied Hungary in what was known as Operation Margarethe. But, by now it was clear that the Hungarians were Germany’s “unwilling satellite”. On 15 October 1944, Horthy made a token effort to disengage Hungary from the war. This time the Germans launched Operation Panzerfaust and Horthy was replaced by a puppet government under the pro-German Prime Minister Ferenc Szálasi. Szálasi and his pro-Nazi Arrow Cross Party remained loyal to the Germans until the end of the war. In late 1944, Hungarian troops on the Eastern Front again experienced success at the Battle of Debrecen. But this was followed immediately by the Soviet invasion of Hungary and the Battle of Budapest. During the German occupation in May-June 1944, the Arrow Cross Party and Hungarian police deported nearly 440,000 Jews, mostly to Auschwitz.[26] Over 400,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, as well as tens of thousands of Romani people. Hundreds of Hungarian people were also executed by the Arrow Cross Party for sheltering Jews. The war left Hungary devastated destroying over 60% of the economy and causing huge loss of life. On 13 February 1945, the Hungarian capital city surrendered unconditionally. On 8 May 1945, World War II in Europe officially ended.

Communist era (1947-1989)

Hungarian Revolution of 1956

Following the fall of Nazi Germany, Soviet troops occupied all of the country and through their influence Hungary gradually became a communist satellite state of the Soviet Union. After 1948, Communist leader Mátyás Rákosi established Stalinist rule in the country complete with forced collectivization and planned economy. The rule of the Rákosi government was nearly unbearable for Hungary’s war-torn citizens. This led to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and Hungary’s temporary withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact. The Soviets retaliated massively with military force, sending in over 150,000 troops and 2,500 tanks[27]. Nearly a quarter of a million people left the country during the brief time that the borders were open in 1956. From the 1960s through the late 1980s, Hungary was often satirically referred to as “the happiest barrack” within the Eastern bloc. This was under the autocratic rule of its controversial communist leader, János Kádár. The last Soviet soldier left the country in 1991 thus ending Soviet military presence in Hungary. With the Soviet Union gone the transition to a market economy began.

Hungarian Republic (1989-)

In June 1987 Károly Grósz took over as premier. In January 1988 all restrictions were lifted on foreign travel. In March demonstrations for democracy and civil rights brought 15,000 onto the streets. In May, after Kádár’s forced retirement, Grósz was named party secretary-general. Under Grósz, Hungary began moving towards full democracy, change accelerated under the impetus of other party reformers such as Imre Pozsgay and Rezső Nyers. Also in June 1988, 30,000 demonstrated against Romania’s plans to demolish Transylvanian villages.

In February, 1989 the Communist Party’s Central Committee, responding to ’public dissatisfaction’, announced it would permit a multi-party system in Hungary and hold free elections. In March, for the first time in decades, the government declared the anniversary of the 1848 Revolution a national holiday. Opposition demonstrations filled the streets of Budapest with more than 75,000 marchers. Grósz met Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow, who condoned Hungary’s moves toward a multi-party system and promised that the USSR would not interfere in Hungary’s internal affairs. In May, Hungary began taking down its barbed wire fence along the Austrian border – the first tear in the Iron Curtain. June brought the reburial of Prime Minister Nagy, executed after the 1956 Revolution, drawing a crowd of 250,000 at the Heroes’ Square. The last speaker, 26-year-old Viktor Orbán publicly called for Soviet troops to leave Hungary. In July U.S. President George Bush visited Hungary. In September Foreign Minister Gyula Horn announced that East German refugees in Hungary would not be repatriated but would instead be allowed to go to the West. The resulting exodus shook East Germany and hastened the fall of the Berlin Wall.

At a party congress in October 1989 the Communists agreed to give up their monopoly on power, paving the way for free elections in March 1990. The party’s name was changed from the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party to simply the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) and a new program advocating social democracy and a free-market economy was adopted. This was not enough to shake off the stigma of four decades of autocratic rule, however, and the 1990 election was won by the centrist Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF), which advocated a gradual transition towards capitalism. The social-democratic Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), which had called for much faster change, came second and the Socialist Party trailed far behind. As Gorbachev looked on, Hungary changed political systems with scarcely a murmur and the last Soviet troops left Hungary in June 1991.

In coalition with two smaller parties, the MDF provided Hungary with sound government during its hard transition to a full market economy. Antall died in December 1993 and was replaced by Interior Minister Péter Boross.

The economic changes of the past few years have resulted in declining living standards for most people in Hungary. In 1991 most state subsidies were removed, leading to a severe recession exacerbated by the fiscal austerity necessary to reduce inflation and stimulate investment. This made life difficult for many Hungarians, and in the May 1994 elections the Hungarian Socialist Party led by former Communists won an absolute majority in parliament. This in no way implied a return to the past, and party leader Gyula Horn was quick to point out that it was his party that had initiated the whole reform process in the first place (as foreign minister in 1989 Horn played a key role in opening Hungary’s border with Austria). All three main political parties advocate economic liberalization and closer ties with the West. In March 1996, Horn was re-elected as Socialist Party leader and confirmed that he would push ahead with the party’s economic stabilization program.

In 1997 in a national referendum 85% voted in favor of Hungary joining the NATO. A year later the European Union began negotiations with Hungary on full membership. In 1999 Hungary joined NATO. Hungary voted in favor of joining the EU, and joined in 2004.

Geography Location: Central Europe, northwest of Romania
Geographic coordinates: 47 00 N, 20 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 93,030 sq km
land: 92,340 sq km
water: 690 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Indiana
Land boundaries: total: 2,171 km
border countries: Austria 366 km, Croatia 329 km, Romania 443 km, Serbia 151 km, Slovakia 677 km, Slovenia 102 km, Ukraine 103 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: temperate; cold, cloudy, humid winters; warm summers
Terrain: mostly flat to rolling plains; hills and low mountains on the Slovakian border
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Tisza River 78 m
highest point: Kekes 1,014 m
Natural resources: bauxite, coal, natural gas, fertile soils, arable land
Land use: arable land: 49.58%
permanent crops: 2.06%
other: 48.36% (2005)
Irrigated land: 2,300 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 120 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 21.03 cu km/yr (9%/59%/32%)
per capita: 2,082 cu m/yr (2001)
Environment – current issues: the upgrading of Hungary’s standards in waste management, energy efficiency, and air, soil, and water pollution to meet EU requirements will require large investments
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: landlocked; strategic location astride main land routes between Western Europe and Balkan Peninsula as well as between Ukraine and Mediterranean basin; the north-south flowing Duna (Danube) and Tisza Rivers divide the country into three large regions
Politics The President of the Republic, elected by the Parliament every five years, has a largely ceremonial role, choosing the dates of elections.

The Prime Minister is elected by Parliament and can only be removed by a constructive vote of no confidence. The prime minister selects Cabinet ministers and has the exclusive right to dismiss them. Each Cabinet nominee appears before one or more parliamentary committees in open hearings and must be formally approved by the President.

A unicameral, 386-member National Assembly (the Országgyűlés) is the highest organ of state authority and initiates and approves legislation sponsored by the Prime Minister. National Parliamentary elections are held every four years; the next are due to be held in 2010.

An 11-member Constitutional Court has power to challenge legislation on grounds of unconstitutionally.

People Population: 9,956,108 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 15.3% (male 785,643/female 741,907)
15-64 years: 69.3% (male 3,399,926/female 3,498,403)
65 years and over: 15.4% (male 554,356/female 975,873) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 38.9 years
male: 36.5 years
female: 41.5 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.253% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 9.66 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 13.05 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0.86 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.059 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.972 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.568 male(s)/female
total population: 0.909 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 8.21 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 8.91 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.46 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.92 years
male: 68.73 years
female: 77.38 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.33 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 2,800 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: less than 100 (2001 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne diseases: tickborne encephalitis (2008)
Nationality: noun: Hungarian(s)
adjective: Hungarian
Ethnic groups: Hungarian 92.3%, Roma 1.9%, other or unknown 5.8% (2001 census)
Religions: Roman Catholic 51.9%, Calvinist 15.9%, Lutheran 3%, Greek Catholic 2.6%, other Christian 1%, other or unspecified 11.1%, unaffiliated 14.5% (2001 census)
Languages: Hungarian 93.6%, other or unspecified 6.4% (2001 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.4%
male: 99.5%
female: 99.3%

Romania: Violence Erupts as Tens of Thousands Protest Corruption

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Violence Erupts as Tens of Thousands Protest Corruption in Romania

Image
The police used a water cannon on Friday to disperse protesters in Romania’s capital, Bucharest, that was organized to oppose government actions that many say will weaken the rule of law. CreditOctav Ganea/Inquam Photos, via Reuters

By Kit Gillet

BUCHAREST, Romania — Antigovernment protests in the Romanian capital turned violent Friday night as the police clashed with protesters, using tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds. More than 240 people, including some security personnel, were reported injured.

An estimated 100,000 people gathered throughout the day in Bucharest’s Piata Victoriei to express their anger at the government, with tens of thousands protesting in other cities across the country. Chief among their grievances are legislative changes that many say will weaken the rule of law.

“We want democracy and laws that defend citizens, not politicians,” said Moise Maracine, 33, who flew from Britain, where he lives and owns a business.

Organizers sought to draw Romanians living outside the country to this demonstration, the latest in a series.

Stelian Onchioiu, 43, who works in Dublin as a driver, said that he came back “because I want to change the system in Romania.” After a decade in the military, Mr. Onchioiu said, he has spent the past two years living in Ireland. “It’s important for us to come back,” he said. “There is too much corruption.”

While the protests started peacefully, demonstrators’ efforts to push back the police barricades were met with strong resistance. Some among the crowd threw bottles and rocks at the police, and tensions grew as the night wore on.

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The protests came about 18 months after protesters staged the largest demonstration in Romania since the revolution that overthrew communism in 1989.

In February 2017, a half-million people took to the streets to oppose an emergency decree that effectively decriminalized low-level corruption. Since then, the Social Democrat-led government has continued to push through legislation that critics believe will undo anticorruption steps taken after Romania joined the European Union in 2007.

Last month, the chief prosecutor of the country’s anticorruption agency, Laura Codruta Kovesi, was fired after falling afoul of the government.

Antigovernment demonstrations have become a regular occurrence in Romania, but in recent months numbers have dropped significantly as fatigue has set it. Friday’s protests were the largest in months.

Previous demonstrations had passed with few incidents of violence. The use of tear gas by security forces stationed outside the main government building angered many in the crowd, and as the night wore on they refused to disperse.

Shortly after 11 p.m., security forces began to forcibly clear the square of protesters.

Klaus Iohannis, who holds the largely ceremonial post of president and has been an opposition leader in the past, denounced the violence in a statement on Facebook.

“I strongly condemn the brutal intervention of the gendarmerie, strongly disproportionate to the manifestations of most people in Piata Victoriei,” he wrote. “Trying to break people’s will through a violent reaction of law enforcement is a reprehensible solution.”

Moldova: Truth, Knowledge And History Of This Eastern Europe Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Moldova

Introduction Formerly part of Romania, Moldova was incorporated into the Soviet Union at the close of World War II. Although independent from the USSR since 1991, Russian forces have remained on Moldovan territory east of the Dniester River supporting the Slavic majority population, mostly Ukrainians and Russians, who have proclaimed a “Transnistria” republic. One of the poorest nations in Europe, Moldova became the first former Soviet state to elect a Communist as its president in 2001.
History Moldova’s territory was inhabited in ancient times by Dacians. Due to its strategic location on a route between Asia and Europe, Moldova faced several invasions, including those by the Huns, Kievan Rus’ and the Mongols. During the Middle Ages, the territory of Republic of Moldova, that of the Chernivtsi oblast and Budjak of Ukraine, as well as that of the eastern 8 of the 41 counties of Romania comprised the Principality of Moldavia (which, like the present-day republic, was known in Romanian as Moldova). The principality became a tributary to the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century. In 1775 the northwestern part of Moldavia was annexed by the Habsburg Empire, and called Bukovina.

In 1812, according to the Treaty of Bucharest between the Ottoman and the Russian Empires, the latter annexed the eastern half of the territory of the Principality of Moldavia, including Khotyn and old Bessarabia (modern Budjak). At first, the Russians used the name “Oblast’ of Moldavia and Bessarabia”, allowing a large degree of autonomy, but later (in 1828) suspended the self-administration and called it Guberniya of Bessarabia, or simply Bessarabia. The western part of Moldavia remained an autonomous principality, and in 1859, united with Wallachia to form the Kingdom of Romania. In 1856, the Treaty of Paris saw two out of nine counties of Bessarabia, Cahul and Ismail, returned to Moldavia, but in 1878, the Treaty of Berlin saw the Kingdom of Romania returning them to the Russian Empire.

Upon annexation, after the expulsion of the large Tatar population of Budjak, the Moldovan/Romanian population of Bessarabia was predominant.[10] The colonization of the region in the 19th century lead to an increase in the Russian, Ukrainian, Lipovan, and Cossack populations in the region; this together with a large influx of Bulgarian immigrants, saw an increase of the Slavic population to more than a fifth of the total population by 1920.[11] With the settling of other nationals such as Gagauz, Jews, and Germans, the proportion of the Moldovan population decreased from around 80%[12] to 52% by some sources[13] or to 70% by others[14] during the course of the century. The Tsarist policy in Bessarabia was in part aimed at denationalization of the Romanian element by forbidding after the 1860s education and mass in Romanian. However, the effect was an extremely low literacy rate (in 1897 approx. 18% for males, approx. 4% for females) rather than a denationalization.

World War I brought in a rise in political and cultural (national) awareness of the locals, as 300,000 Bessarabians were drafted into the Russian Army formed in 1917, within bigger units several “Moldavian Soldiers’ Committees” were formed. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, a Bessarabian parliament, Sfatul Ţării (October-November 1917), which was opened on December 3 [O.S. November 21] 1917, proclaimed the Moldavian Democratic Republic (December 15 [O.S. December 2] 1917) within a federal Russian state, and formed its government (December 21 [O.S. December 8] 1917). Bessarabia proclaimed independence from Russia (February 6 [O.S. January 24] 1918), and, under pressure from the Romanian army that entered the region in early January, on April 9 [O.S. March 27] 1918, Sfatul Ţării decided with 86 votes for, 3 against and 36 abstaining, on union with the Kingdom of Romania, conditional upon the fulfillment of the agrarian reform, local autonomy, and respect for universal human rights. The conditions were dropped after Bukovina and Transylvania also joined the Kingdom of Romania.[16][17][18][19][20] The union was recognized in the Treaty of Paris (1920),[21] which, however, has never came into force since it was not ratified by Japan.[22] The newly-communist Russia did not recognize the Romanian rule over Bessarabia.[23] A mutual treaty between the Soviets and Romania was not signed due to the former’s claims over Bessarabia. In the Kellogg-Briand Treaty of 1928 and the Treaty of London of July 1933, the Soviet Union and Romania have subscribed to the principle of non-violent resolution of territorial disputes. Transnistria, at the time part of the Ukrainian SSR, itself part of the USSR, was formed into the Moldavian ASSR (1924-1940) after the failure of the Tatarbunary Uprising.

The agrarian (land) reform, settled by Sfatul Ţării in 1918-1919, resulted in a rise of a middle class, as the rural population of the region represented 80%. Together with peace and favorable economic circumstances, it produced a small economic boom. However, urban development and the industry were insignifiant, the region remaining an agrarian rural region throughout the interwar period.[24] The literacy rate grew from 10.5%[25] to 37% by 1930; however the region still remained lagging in the aspect of education, compared to a 60% literacy rate country average.[citation needed] In an attempt to separate the Bessarabian ethnic minorities from the Russian influence, the Romanian authorities allowed education in any language desired; with time, while Romanian replaced Russian in cities, the authorities sought to reduce the number of people in minority-language education and educate them in Romanian instead.

Soviet era

As a result of Ribbentrop-Molotov pact (Article 4 of the secret Annex to the Treaty), Bessarabia was annexed by the USSR, as part of the sphere of influence agreed with Nazi Germany. On June 26, 1940, Romania received an ultimatum from the Soviet Union, demanding the evacuation of the Romanian military and administration from Bessarabia and from the northern part of Bukovina, with an implied threat of invasion in the event of noncompliance.[26] Under pressure from Moscow and Berlin, the Romanian administration and the army were forced to retreat from Bessarabia as well from Northern Bukovina to avoid war.[27][28] On June 28, 1940, these territories were occupied by the Soviet Union. During the retreat, the Romanian Army was attacked by the Soviet Army, which entered Bessarabia before the Romanian administration finished retreating. Some 42,876 Romanian soldiers and officers were unaccounted for after the retreat.[29] The northern and southern parts, which had sizable non-Moldovan communities (of Ukrainians, Bessarabian Bulgars, Bessarabian Germans and Lipovans), were transferred to the Ukrainian SSR as the Chernivtsi and Izmail Oblasts. At the same time, the Moldavian ASSR, where Moldovans were a plurality, was disbanded, and up to 1/2 of its territory was joined with the remaining territory of Bessarabia to form the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic, contiguous with present-day Moldova.

By participating in the 1941 Axis invasion of of the Soviet Union, Romania seized the territory of the MSSR, and reestablished its administration there. Later, the Soviet Army reconquered and re-annexed the area in February-August 1944. In the region known as Transnistria, Romanian forces, working with the Germans, deported or exterminated 300,000 Jews, including 147,000 from Bessarabia and Bukovina. [30]

Under early Soviet rule, deportations of locals to the northern Urals, Siberia, and Kazakhstan occurred regularly throughout the Stalinist period, with the largest ones on 12-13 June 1941, and 5-6 July 1949, accounting for 19,000 and 35,000 deportees respectively. [31] According to Russian historians, in 1940-1941, ca. 90,000 inhabitants of the annexed territories were subject to political persecutions.[32] In 1946, a severe drought, exaggerated delivery quota obligations the Soviet state imposed on farmers, the forced agricultural requisitions employed by the Soviets because most farmers could not meet these, and the absence of a large part of the male work force (most of the Bessarabians enrolled in 1944 into the Soviet Army were not discharged until late 1946) resulted in a famine (1946-1947), which resulted in 216,000 deaths and about 350,000 cases of dystrophy in MSSR alone.[33] Similar events occurred in 1930s in Transnistria.[34] In 1944-53, there were many anti-Communist armed resistance groups active in Moldova; however the NKVD/MGB managed to uproot most of them with arrests and deportation.[35]

After World War II, ethnic Russians and Ukrainians (commonly known as Russophones) immigrated into the new Soviet republic, especially into urbanized areas.

The Soviet government began a campaign to promote a Moldovan ethnic identity, different from that of the Romanians, based on a theory developed during the existence of the Moldovan ASSR. Official Soviet policy asserted that the language spoken by Moldovans was distinct from the Romanian language (see History of the Moldovan language). The Moldovan was written in the Cyrillic alphabet, in contrast with Romanian, which was written in the Latin alphabet (the language had used a different variant of the Cyrillic alphabet before 1860); to distinguish the two, when there is a chance of confusion, Moldovans commonly refer to the former as “the Russian alphabet”. Moldovan Cyrillic incorporated slight changes to the Cyrillic alphabet, most notably the use of the letter zhe with a breve (Ӂ – ӂ) to indicate the sound /dʒ/.

In 1970s and 1980s, the Moldavian SSR received substantial allocations from the budget of the USSR to develop industrial and scientific facilities as well as housing. In 1971, the Council of Ministers of the USSR adopted a decision “About the measures for further development of the city of Kishinev”, that alloted more than one billion Soviet rubles from the USSR budget; subsequent decisions also directed substantial funding and brought qualified specialists from other parts of the USSR to develop Moldova’s industry.[citation needed] This influx of investments was stopped in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, when Moldova became independent.

Independent Moldova

Along with the other peripheral Soviet republics, Moldova started to move towards independence from 1988 onwards; on August 31, 1989 a language law was passed, adopting the Latin alphabet for Moldovan and declaring it the state language of the MSSR.[36] The first free elections for the local parliament were held in February and March 1990.

After the attempted Moscow Putsch, Moldova declared its independence on August 27, 1991, and in December of that year signed to be a member of the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) along with most of the former Soviet republics. Declaring itself a neutral state, it did not join the military branch of the CIS. At the end of that year, a former communist reformer, Mircea Snegur, won an unchallenged election for the presidency. Three months later, the country achieved formal recognition as an independent state at the United Nations.

The part of Moldova east of the Dniester river, Transnistria, which included a larger proportion of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians, claimed independence in 1990, fearing the rise of nationalism in Moldova and the country’s expected reunification with Romania upon secession from the USSR. This caused a brief military conflict between Moldova and forces supporting the secession of Transnistria in 1992. Russian military stationed in the region (14th Army) intervened on the Transnistrian side; it also remained on Moldovan territory east of the Dniester after the end of the military conflict, despite signing international obligations to withdraw, and against the will of Moldovan government.[37][38] They still remain stationed in Transnistria. Negotiations between the Transnistrian and Moldovan leaders have been going on under the mediation of the OSCE, Russia, and Ukraine; lately observers from the European Union and the USA have become involved.

The March 1994 referendum for a new constitution that stated the independence of the republic saw an overwhelming majority of voters in support.

Since 2001, the country is a member of the WTO.

Geography Location: Eastern Europe, northeast of Romania
Geographic coordinates: 47 00 N, 29 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 33,843 sq km
land: 33,371 sq km
water: 472 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Maryland
Land boundaries: total: 1,389 km
border countries: Romania 450 km, Ukraine 939 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: moderate winters, warm summers
Terrain: rolling steppe, gradual slope south to Black Sea
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Dniester River 2 m
highest point: Dealul Balanesti 430 m
Natural resources: lignite, phosphorites, gypsum, arable land, limestone
Land use: arable land: 54.52%
permanent crops: 8.81%
other: 36.67% (2005)
Irrigated land: 3,000 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 11.7 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 2.31 cu km/yr (10%/58%/33%)
per capita: 549 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: landslides
Environment – current issues: heavy use of agricultural chemicals, including banned pesticides such as DDT, has contaminated soil and groundwater; extensive soil erosion from poor farming methods
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: landlocked; well endowed with various sedimentary rocks and minerals including sand, gravel, gypsum, and limestone
Politics During the first 10 years of independence, Moldova was governed by coalitions of different parties, led mostly by former communist officials. The 1998 economic crisis in Russia, Moldova’s main economic partner at the time, produced a political and economic crisis in the country. The political flux was cleared in 2001 when elections saw the Party of Communists of Moldova win the majority of seats in the Parliament. Its leader Vladimir Voronin was appointed president. In economic terms, the crisis provoked an emigration of labor, as well as permanent emigration from Moldova. According to the census data, from 1989 to 2004, Moldova has lost about 400,000 inhabitants, or 9% of the population. Analysts estimate that actual emigration could be higher, as many seasonal workers remain registered as living in the country. Over 100,000 people from other former Soviet states have migrated to Moldova in the 10 years after its independence. Ethnically, the dominant group (Moldavians/Romanians) has somewhat strengthened its position, representing 79% outside Transnistria, or 71.5% including Transnistria. In absolute numbers, the Moldovan-Romanian population declined by about 50,000 people compared to 1989, while for Ukrainians and Russians this figure has reached 200,000 of each nationality; most of this change is believed to have occurred between 1998 and 2004.

Relationships between Moldova and Russia deteriorated in November 2003 over a Russian proposal for the solution of the Transnistrian conflict, which Moldovan authorities refused to accept. In the following election, held in 2005, the Communist party made a formal 180 degree turn and was re-elected on a pro-Western platform,[citation needed] with Voronin being re-elected to a second term as a president. Since 1999, Moldova has constantly affirmed its desire to join the European Union,[39][40] and implement its first three-year Action Plan within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) of the EU.

People Population: 4,324,450 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 16.3% (male 361,000/female 341,785)
15-64 years: 72.9% (male 1,528,080/female 1,622,620)
65 years and over: 10.9% (male 174,448/female 296,517) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 34.3 years
male: 32.4 years
female: 36.4 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.092% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 11.01 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 10.8 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -1.13 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.59 male(s)/female
total population: 0.91 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 13.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 14.95 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 11.96 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 70.5 years
male: 66.81 years
female: 74.41 years (2008 est.)

Romania: The Truth Knowledge And The History Of This Great People

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Romania

Introduction The principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia – for centuries under the suzerainty of the Turkish Ottoman Empire – secured their autonomy in 1856; they united in 1859 and a few years later adopted the new name of Romania. The country gained recognition of its independence in 1878. It joined the Allied Powers in World War I and acquired new territories – most notably Transylvania – following the conflict. In 1940, Romania allied with the Axis powers and participated in the 1941 German invasion of the USSR. Three years later, overrun by the Soviets, Romania signed an armistice. The post-war Soviet occupation led to the formation of a Communist “people’s republic” in 1947 and the abdication of the king. The decades-long rule of dictator Nicolae CEAUSESCU, who took power in 1965, and his Securitate police state became increasingly oppressive and draconian through the 1980s. CEAUSESCU was overthrown and executed in late 1989. Former Communists dominated the government until 1996 when they were swept from power. Romania joined NATO in 2004 and the EU in 2007.
History Prehistory and Antiquity

The oldest modern human remains in Europe were discovered in the “Cave With Bones” in present day Romania.[15] The remains are approximately 42,000 years old and as Europe’s oldest remains of Homo sapiens, they may represent the first such people to have entered the continent.[16] But the earliest written evidence of people living in the territory of the present-day Romania comes from Herodotus in book IV of his Histories (Herodotus) written 440 BCE, where he writes about the Getae tribes.

The province of Roman Dacia

Dacians, considered a part of these Getae, were a branch of Thracians that inhabited Dacia (corresponding to modern Romania, Moldova and northern Bulgaria). The Dacian kingdom reached its maximum expansion during King Burebista, around 82 BC, and soon came under the scrutiny of the neighboring Roman Empire. After an attack by the Dacians on the Roman province of Moesia in 87 AD, the Romans led a series of wars (Dacian Wars) which eventually led to the victory of Emperor Trajan in 106 AD, and transformed the core of the kingdom into the province of Roman Dacia.

Rich ore deposits were found in the province, and especially gold and silver were plentiful. which led to Rome heavily colonizing the province.[20] This brought the Vulgar Latin and started a period of intense romanization, that would give birth to the proto-Romanian. Nevertheless, in the 3rd century AD, with the invasions of migratory populations such as Goths, the Roman Empire was forced to pull out of Dacia around 271 AD, thus making it the first province to be abandoned.

Several competing theories have been generated to explain the origin of modern Romanians. Linguistic and geo-historical analysis tend to indicate that Romanians have coalesced as a major ethnic group both South and North of the Danube.[25] For further discussion, see Origin of Romanians.

Middle Ages

After the Roman army and administration left Dacia, the territory was invaded by the Goths, then, in the 4th century by Huns. They were followed by more nomads including Gepids, Avars, Bulgars, Pechenegs,and Cumans.

Bran Castle was built in 1212, and became commonly known as Dracula’s Castle after the myths that it the home of Vlad III Dracula.

In the Middle Ages, Romanians lived in three distinct principalities: Wallachia (Romanian: Ţara Românească—”Romanian Land”), Moldavia (Romanian: Moldova) and Transylvania. By the 11th century, Transylvania became a largely autonomous part of the Kingdom of Hungary,[33] and became the independent as Principality of Transylvania from the 16th century,[34] until 1711.[35] In the other Romanian principalities, many small local states with varying degrees of independence developed, but only in the 14th century the larger principalities Wallachia (1310) and Moldavia (around 1352) emerged to fight a threat of the Ottoman Empire.[36][37]

By 1541, the entire Balkan peninsula and most of Hungary became Ottoman provinces. In contrast, Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania, came under Ottoman suzerainty, but conserved fully internal autonomy and, until the 18th century, some external independence. During this period the Romanian lands were characterised by the slow disappearance of the feudal system; the distinguishment of some rulers like Stephen the Great, Vasile Lupu, and Dimitrie Cantemir in Moldavia, Matei Basarab, Vlad III the Impaler, and Constantin Brâncoveanu in Wallachia, Gabriel Bethlen in Transylvania; the Phanariot Epoch; and the appearance of the Russian Empire as a political and military influence.

In 1600, the principalities of Wallachia, Moldova and Transylvania were simultaneously headed by the Wallachian prince Michael the Brave (Mihai Viteazul), Ban of Oltenia, but the chance for a unity dissolved after Mihai was killed, only one year later, by the soldiers of an Austrian army general Giorgio Basta. Mihai Viteazul, who was prince of Transylvania for less than one year, intended for the first time to unite the three principalities and to lay down foundations of a single state in a territory comparable to today’s Romania.[38]

After his death, as vassal tributary states, Moldova and Wallachia had complete internal autonomy and an external independence, which was finally lost in the 18th century. In 1699, Transylvania became a territory of the Habsburgs’ Austrian empire, following the Austrian victory over the Turks. The Austrians, in their turn, rapidly expanded their empire: in 1718 an important part of Wallachia, called Oltenia, was incorporated to the Austrian monarchy and was only returned in 1739. In 1775, the Austrian empire occupied the north-western part of Moldavia, later called Bukovina, while the eastern half of the principality (called Bessarabia) was occupied in 1812 by Russia.

Independence and monarchy

During the period of Austro-Hungarian rule in Transylvania, and Ottoman suzerainty over Wallachia and Moldavia, most Romanians were in the situation of being second-class citizens (or even non-citizens)[39] in a territory where they formed the majority of the population.[40][41] In some Transylvanian cities, such as Braşov (at that time the Transylvanian Saxon citadel of Kronstadt), Romanians were not even allowed to reside within the city walls.[42]

After the failed 1848 Revolution, the Great Powers did not support the Romanians’ expressed desire to officially unite in a single state, forcing Romania to proceed alone against the Ottomans. The electors in both Moldavia and Wallachia chose in 1859 the same person–Alexandru Ioan Cuza – as prince (Domnitor in Romanian).[43] Thus, Romania was created as a personal union, albeit a Romania that did not include Transylvania. Here, the upper class and the aristocracy remained mainly Hungarian, and the Romanian nationalism inevitably ran up against Hungarian one in the late 19th century. As in the previous 900 years, Austria-Hungary, especially under the Dual Monarchy of 1867, kept the Hungarians firmly in control even in parts of Transylvania where Romanians constituted a local majority.

In a 1866 coup d’état, Cuza was exiled and replaced by Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, who became known as Prince Carol of Romania. During the Russo-Turkish War Romania fought on the Russian side,[44] in and in the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, Romania was recognized as an independent state by the Great Powers.[45][46] In return, Romania ceded three southern districts of Bessarabia to Russia and acquired Dobruja. In 1881, the principality was raised to a kingdom and Prince Carol became King Carol I.

The 1878-1914 period was one of stability and progress for Romania. During the Second Balkan War, Romania joined Greece, Serbia, Montenegro and Turkey against Bulgaria, and in the peace Treaty of Bucharest (1913) Romania gained Southern Dobrudja.[47]

World Wars and Greater Romania
(1916-1947)

In August 1914, when World War I broke out, Romania declared neutrality. Two years later, under the pressure of Allies (especially France desperate to open a new front), on August 14/27 1916 it joined the Allies, for which they were promised support for the accomplishment of national unity, Romania declared war on Austria-Hungary.[48]

The Romanian military campaign ended in disaster for Romania as the Central Powers conquered two-thirds of the country and captured or killed the majority of its army within four months. Nevertheless, Moldova remained in Romanian hands after the invading forces were stopped in 1917 and since by the war’s end, Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire had collapsed, Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania were allowed to unite with the Kingdom of Romania in 1918. By the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, Hungary renounced in favour of Romania all the claims of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy over Transylvania.[49] The union of Romania with Bukovina was ratified in 1919 in the Treaty of Saint Germain,[50] and with Bessarabia in 1920 by the Treaty of Paris.

The Romanian expression România Mare (literal translation “Great Romania”, but more commonly rendered “Greater Romania”) generally refers to the Romanian state in the interwar period, and by extension, to the territory Romania covered at the time (see map). Romania achieved at that time its greatest territorial extent (almost 300,000 km2/120,000 sq mi[52]), managing to unite all the historic Romanian lands.

Romanian territory during the 20th century: purple indicates the Old Kingdom before 1913, orange indicates Greater Romania areas that joined or were annexed after the Second Balkan War and WWI but were lost after WWII, and pink indicates areas that joined Romania after WWI and remained so after WWII.

During the Second World War, Romania tried again to remain neutral, but on June 28, 1940, it received a Soviet ultimatum with an implied threat of invasion in the event of non-compliance.[53] Under pressure from Moscow and Berlin, the Romanian administration and the army were forced to retreat from Bessarabia as well from Northern Bukovina to avoid war.[54][55] This, in combination with other factors, prompted the government to join the Axis. Thereafter, southern Dobruja was awarded to Bulgaria, while Hungary received Northern Transylvania as result of an Axis arbitration.[56] The authoritarian King Carol II abdicated in 1940, succeeded by the National Legionary State, in which power was shared by Ion Antonescu and the Iron Guard. Within months, Antonescu had crushed the Iron Guard, and the subsequent year Romania entered the war on the side of the Axis powers. During the war, Romania was the most important source of oil for Nazi Germany,[57] which attracted multiple bombing raids by the Allies. By means of the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, Romania recovered Bessarabia and northern Bukovina from the Soviet Russia, under the leadership of general Ion Antonescu. The Antonescu regime played a major role in the Holocaust,[58] following to a lesser extent the Nazi policy of oppression and massacre of the Jews, and Romas, primarily in the Eastern territories Romania recovered or occupied from the Soviet Union (Transnistria) and in Moldavia.[59]

In August 1944, Antonescu was toppled and arrested by King Michael I of Romania. Romania changed sides and joined the Allies, but its role in the defeat of Nazi Germany was not recognized by the Paris Peace Conference of 1947.[60] With the Red Army forces still stationed in the country and exerting de facto control, Communists and their allied parties claimed 80% of the vote, through a combination of vote manipulation,[61] elimination, and forced mergers of competing parties, thus establishing themselves as the dominant force. By the end of the war, the Romanian army had suffered about 300,000 casualties.

Communism
(1947–1989)

In 1947, King Michael I was forced by the Communists to abdicate and leave the country, Romania was proclaimed a republic, and remained under direct military and economic control of the USSR until the late 1950s. During this period, Romania’s resources were drained by the “SovRom” agreements: mixed Soviet-Romanian companies established to mask the looting of Romania by the Soviet Union.

After the negotiated retreat of Soviet troops in 1958, Romania, under the new leadership of Nicolae Ceauşescu, started to pursue independent policies such as: being the only Warsaw Pact country to condemn the Soviet-led 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, and to continue diplomatic relations with Israel after the Six-Day War of 1967; establishing economic (1963) and diplomatic (1967) relations with the Federal Republic of Germany.[68] Also, close ties with the Arab countries (and the PLO) allowed Romania to play a key role in the Israel-Egypt and Israel-PLO peace processes.[69] But as Romania’s foreign debt sharply increased between 1977 and 1981 (from 3 to 10 billion US dollars),[70] the influence of international financial organisations such as the IMF or the World Bank grew, conflicting with Nicolae Ceauşescu’s autarchic policies. He eventually initiated a project of total reimbursement of the foreign debt by imposing policies that impoverished Romanians and exhausted the Romanian economy, while also greatly extending the authority police state, and imposing a cult of personality. These led to a dramatic decrease in Ceauşescu-popularity and culminated in his overthrow and execution in the bloody Romanian Revolution of 1989.

During the 1947–1962 period, many people were arbitrarily killed or imprisoned for political, economic or unknown reasons:[71] detainees in prisons or camps, deported, persons under house arrest, and administrative detainees. There were hundreds of thousands of abuses, deaths and incidents of torture against a large range of people, from political opponents to ordinary citizens.[72] Between 60,000 and 80,000 political prisoners were detained as psychiatric patients and treated in some of the most sadistic ways by doctors. It is estimated that, it total, two million people were direct victims of the communism repression.

Present-day democracy

After the revolution, the National Salvation Front, led by Ion Iliescu, took partial multi-party democratic and free market measures.[77][78] Several major political parties of the pre-war era, such as the Christian-Democratic National Peasants’ Party, the National Liberal Party and the Romanian Social Democrat Party were resurrected. After several major political rallies, in April 1990, a sit-in protest contesting the results of the recently held parliamentary elections began in University Square, Bucharest accusing the Front of being made up of former Communists and members of the Securitate. The protesters did not recognize the results of the election, deeming them undemocratic, and asked for the exclusion from the political life of the former high-ranking Communist Party members. The protest rapidly grew to become an ongoing mass demonstration (known as the Golaniad). The peaceful demonstrations degenerated into violence, and the violent intervention of coal miners from the Jiu Valleyled to what is remembered as the June 1990 Mineriad.

The subsequent disintegration of the Front produced several political parties including the Romanian Democrat Social Party (later Social Democratic Party), the Democratic Party and the (Alliance for Romania). The first governed Romania from 1990 until 1996 through several coalitions and governments and with Ion Iliescu as head of state. Since then there have been three democratic changes of government: in 1996, the democratic-liberal opposition and its leader Emil Constantinescu acceded to power; in 2000 the Social Democrats returned to power, with Iliescu once again president; and in 2004 Traian Băsescu was elected president, with an electoral coalition called Justice and Truth Alliance. The government was formed by a larger coalition which also includes the Conservative Party and the ethnic Hungarian party.

Post-Cold War Romania developed closer ties with Western Europe, eventually joining NATO in 2004, and hosting in Bucharest the 2008 summit.[80] The country applied in June 1993 for membership in the European Union and became an Associated State of the EU in 1995, an Acceding Country in 2004, and a member on January 1, 2007.

Following the free travel agreement and politic of the post-Cold War period, as well as hardship of the life in the post 1990s economic depression, Romania has an increasingly large diaspora, estimated at over 2 million people. The main emigration targets are Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, UK, Canada and the USA.

Geography Location: Southeastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Bulgaria and Ukraine
Geographic coordinates: 46 00 N, 25 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 237,500 sq km
land: 230,340 sq km
water: 7,160 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Oregon
Land boundaries: total: 2,508 km
border countries: Bulgaria 608 km, Hungary 443 km, Moldova 450 km, Serbia 476 km, Ukraine (north) 362 km, Ukraine (east) 169 km
Coastline: 225 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: temperate; cold, cloudy winters with frequent snow and fog; sunny summers with frequent showers and thunderstorms
Terrain: central Transylvanian Basin is separated from the Plain of Moldavia on the east by the Carpathian Mountains and separated from the Walachian Plain on the south by the Transylvanian Alps
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Black Sea 0 m
highest point: Moldoveanu 2,544 m
Natural resources: petroleum (reserves declining), timber, natural gas, coal, iron ore, salt, arable land, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 39.49%
permanent crops: 1.92%
other: 58.59% (2005)
Irrigated land: 30,770 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 42.3 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 6.5 cu km/yr (9%/34%/57%)
per capita: 299 cu m/yr (2003)
Natural hazards: earthquakes, most severe in south and southwest; geologic structure and climate promote landslides
Environment – current issues: soil erosion and degradation; water pollution; air pollution in south from industrial effluents; contamination of Danube delta wetlands
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: controls most easily traversable land route between the Balkans, Moldova, and Ukraine
Politics The Constitution of Romania is based on the Constitution of France’s Fifth Republic[131] and was approved in a national referendum on December 8, 1991.[131] A plebiscite held in October 2003 approved 79 amendments to the Constitution, bringing it into conformity with the European Union legislation.[131] Romania is governed on the basis of multi-party democratic system and of the segregation of the legal, executive and judicial powers.[131] The Constitution states that Romania is a semi-presidential democratic republic where executive functions are shared between the president and the prime minister. The President is elected by popular vote for maximum two terms, and since the amendments in 2003, the terms are five years.[131] The President appoints the Prime Minister, who in turn appoints the Council of Ministers.[131] While the president resides at Cotroceni Palace, the Prime Minister with the Romanian Government is based at Victoria Palace.

The legislative branch of the government, collectively known as the Parliament (Parlamentul României), consists of two chambers – the Senate (Senat), which has 140 members, and the Chamber of Deputies (Camera Deputaţilor), which has 346 members.[131] The members of both chambers are elected every four years under a system of party-list proportional representation.

The justice system is independent of the other branches of government, and is made up of a hierarchical system of courts culminating in the High Court of Cassation and Justice, which is the supreme court of Romania. There are also courts of appeal, county courts and local courts. The Romanian judicial system is strongly influenced by the French model, considering that it is based on civil law and is inquisitorial in nature. The Constitutional Court (Curtea Constituţională) is responsible for judging the compliance of laws and other state regulations to the Romanian Constitution, which is the fundamental law of the country. The constitution, which was introduced in 1991, can only be amended by a public referendum, the last one being in 2003. Since this amendment, the court’s decisions cannot be overruled by any majority of the parliament.

The country’s entry into the European Union in 2007 has been a significant influence on its domestic policy. As part of the process, Romania has instituted reforms including judicial reform, increased judicial cooperation with other member states, and measures to combat corruption. Nevertheless, in 2006 Brussels report, Romania and Bulgaria were described as the two most corrupt countries in the EU.

People Population: 22,246,862 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 15.6% (male 1,778,864/female 1,687,659)
15-64 years: 69.7% (male 7,718,125/female 7,791,102)
65 years and over: 14.7% (male 1,337,915/female 1,933,197) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 37.3 years
male: 35.9 years
female: 38.7 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.136% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 10.61 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 11.84 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.13 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 23.73 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 26.81 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.46 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.18 years
male: 68.69 years
female: 75.89 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.38 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 6,500 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 350 (2001 est.)
Nationality: noun: Romanian(s)
adjective: Romanian
Ethnic groups: Romanian 89.5%, Hungarian 6.6%, Roma 2.5%, Ukrainian 0.3%, German 0.3%, Russian 0.2%, Turkish 0.2%, other 0.4% (2002 census)
Religions: Eastern Orthodox (including all sub-denominations) 86.8%, Protestant (various denominations including Reformate and Pentecostal) 7.5%, Roman Catholic 4.7%, other (mostly Muslim) and unspecified 0.9%, none 0.1% (2002 census)
Languages: Romanian 91% (official), Hungarian 6.7%, Romany (Gypsy) 1.1%, other 1.2%
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.3%
male: 98.4%
female: 96.3% (2002 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 14 years
male: 14 years
female: 14 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 3.5% of GDP (2005)

Lost World Of Shipwrecks Have Been Found In The Black Sea Off Of Bulgarian Coast

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIME’S, SCIENCE SECTION)

An image of the well-preserved medieval ship found at the bottom of the Black Sea, one of more than 40 wrecks discovered. Photogrammetry, a process using thousands of photographs and readings, produced a rendering that appears three-dimensional.Credit Expedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

The medieval ship lay more than a half-mile down at the bottom of the Black Sea, its masts, timbers and planking undisturbed in the darkness for seven or eight centuries. Lack of oxygen in the icy depths had ruled out the usual riot of creatures that feast on sunken wood.

This fall, a team of explorers lowered a robot on a long tether, lit up the wreck with bright lights and took thousands of high-resolution photos. A computer then merged the images into a detailed portrait.

Archaeologists date the discovery to the 13th or 14th century, opening a new window on forerunners of the 15th- and 16th-century sailing vessels that discovered the New World, including those of Columbus. This medieval ship probably served the Venetian empire, which had Black Sea outposts.

Never before had this type of ship been found in such complete form. The breakthrough was the quarterdeck, from which the captain would have directed a crew of perhaps 20 sailors.

“That’s never been seen archaeologically,” said Rodrigo Pacheco-Ruiz, an expedition member at the Center for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Southampton, in Britain. “We couldn’t believe our eyes.”

A photogrammetric image of a ship from the Ottoman era that most likely went down between the 17th and 19th centuries. The discoverers nicknamed it the Flower of the Black Sea because of its ornate carvings, including two large posts topped with petals. Credit Expedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

Remarkably, the find is but one of more than 40 shipwrecks that the international team recently discovered and photographed off the Bulgarian coast in one of archaeology’s greatest coups.

In age, the vessels span a millennium, from the Byzantine to the Ottoman empires, from the ninth to the 19th centuries. Generally, the ships are in such good repair that the images reveal intact coils of rope, rudders and elaborately carved decorations.

“They’re astonishingly preserved,” said Jon Adams, the leader of the Black Sea project and founding director of the maritime archaeology center at the University of Southampton.

Kroum Batchvarov, a team member at the University of Connecticut who grew up in Bulgaria and has conducted other studies in its waters, said the recent discoveries “far surpassed my wildest expectations.”

Independent experts said the annals of deepwater archaeology hold few, if any, comparable sweeps of discovery in which shipwrecks have proved to be so plentiful, diverse and well-preserved.

A photogrammetric image of the stern of the Ottoman-era ship showing coils of rope and a tiller with elaborate carvings. A lack of oxygen at the icy depths of the Black Sea left the wrecks relatively undisturbed.Credit Expedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

“It’s a great story,” said Shelley Wachsmann of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University. “We can expect some real contributions to our understanding of ancient trade routes.”

Goods traded on the Black Sea included grains, furs, horses, oils, cloth, wine and people. The Tatars turned Christians into slaves who were shipped to places like Cairo. For Europeans, the sea provided access to a northern branch of the Silk Road and imports of silk, satin, musk, perfumes, spices and jewels.

Marco Polo reportedly visited the Black Sea, and Italian merchant colonies dotted its shores. The profits were so enormous that, in the 13th and 14th centuries, Venice and Genoa fought a series of wars for control of the trade routes, including those of the Black Sea.

Brendan P. Foley, an archaeologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, Mass., said the good condition of the shipwrecks implied that many objects inside their hulls might also be intact.

“You might find books, parchment, written documents,” he said in an interview. “Who knows how much of this stuff was being transported? But now we have the possibility of finding out. It’s amazing.”

Experts said the success in Bulgarian waters might inspire other nations that control portions of the Black Sea to join the archaeological hunt. They are Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.

Dr. Foley, who has explored a number of Black Sea wrecks, said the sea’s overall expanse undoubtedly held tens of thousands of lost ships. “Everything that sinks out there is going to be preserved,” he added. “They’re not going away.”

For ages, the Black Sea was a busy waterway that served the Balkans, the Eurasian steppes, the Caucasus, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia and Greece. It long beckoned to archaeologists because they knew its deep waters lacked oxygen, a rarity for large bodies of water.

The great rivers of Eastern Europe — the Don, the Danube, the Dnieper — pour so much fresh water into the sea that a permanent layer forms over denser, salty water from the Mediterranean. As a result, oxygen from the atmosphere that mixes readily with fresh water never penetrates the inky depths.

In 1976, Willard Bascom, a pioneer of oceanography, in his book “Deep Water, Ancient Ships,” called the Black Sea unique among the world’s seas and a top candidate for exploration and discovery.

A photogrammetric image of a Byzantine wreck, dating perhaps to the ninth century. Superimposed is an image of one of the expedition’s tethered robots that photographed the lost ships.CreditExpedition and Education Foundation/Black Sea MAP

“One is tempted,” he wrote, “to begin searching there in spite of the huge expanse of bottom that would have to be inspected.”

In 2002, Robert D. Ballard, a discoverer of the sunken Titanic, led a Black Sea expedition that found a 2,400-year-old wreck laden with the clay storage jars of antiquity. One held remnants of a large fish that had been dried and cut into steaks, a popular food in ancient Greece.

The new team said it received exploratory permits from the Bulgarian ministries of culture and foreign affairs and limited its Black Sea hunts to parts of that nation’s exclusive economic zone, which covers thousands of square miles and runs up to roughly a mile deep.

Although the team’s official name is the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project, or Black Sea MAP, it also hauls up sediments to hunt for clues to how the sea’s rising waters engulfed former land surfaces and human settlements.

Team members listed on its website include the Bulgarian National Institute of Archaeology, the Bulgarian Center for Underwater Archaeology, Sodertorn University in Sweden, and the Hellenic Center for Marine Research in Greece.

An illustration of what the research team believes the medieval ship found in the Black Sea looked like during its heyday. Credit Jon Adams/University of Southampton/Black Sea MAP

The project’s financial backer is the Expedition and Education Foundation, a charity registered in Britain whose benefactors want to remain anonymous, team members said. Dr. Adams of the University of Southampton, the team’s scientific leader, described it as catalyzing an academic-industry partnership on the largest project “of its type ever undertaken.”

Nothing is known publicly about the cost, presumably vast, of the Black Sea explorations, which are to run for three years. The endeavor began last year with a large Greek ship doing a preliminary survey. This year, the main vessel was the Stril Explorer, a British-flagged ship bearing a helicopter landing pad that usually services the undersea pipes and structures of the offshore oil industry.

Instead, archaeologists on the ship lowered its sophisticated robots to hunt for ancient shipwrecks and lost history.

In an interview, Dr. Pacheco-Ruiz of the University of Southampton said he was watching the monitors late one night in September when the undersea robot lit up a large wreck in a high state of preservation.

“I was speechless,” he recalled. “When I saw the ropes, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I still can’t.”

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Dr. Pacheco-Ruiz said the vessel hailed from the Ottoman Empire, whose capital was Constantinople (today Istanbul), and most likely went down sometime between the 17th and 19th centuries. He said the team nicknamed it “Flower of the Black Sea” because its deck bears ornate carvings, including two large posts with tops that form petals.

In an interview, Dr. Batchvarov of the University of Connecticut said most of the discoveries date to the Ottoman era. So it was that, late one night, during his shift, he assumed that a new wreck coming into view would be more of the same.

“Then I saw a quarter rudder,” he recalled, referring to a kind of large steering oar on a ship’s side. It implied the wreck was much older. Then another appeared. Quickly, he had the expedition’s leader, Dr. Adams, awakened.

“He came immediately,” Dr. Batchvarov recalled. “We looked at each other like two little boys in a candy shop.”

Dr. Batchvarov said the wreck — the medieval one found more than a half-mile down — was part of a class known by several names, including cocha and “round ship.” The latter name arose from how its ample girth let it carry more cargo and passengers than a warship.

Dr. Adams said the remarkable color images of the lost ships derived from a process known as photogrammetry. It combines photography with the careful measurement of distances between objects, letting a computer turn flat images into renderings that seem three-dimensional.

He said tethered robots shot the photographic images with video and still cameras. The distance information, he added, came from advanced sonars, which emit high-pitched sounds that echo through seawater. Their measurements, he said, can range down to less than a millimeter.

A news release from the University of Southampton refers to the images as “digital models.” Their creation, it said, “takes days even with the fastest computers.”

Filmmakers are profiling the Black Sea hunt in a documentary, according to the team’s website.

Another part of the project seeks to share the thrill of discovery with schools and educators. Students are to study on the Black Sea, the website says, or join university scientists in analyzing field samples “to uncover the mysteries of the past.”

The team has said little publicly on whether it plans to excavate the ships — a topic on which nations, academics and treasure hunters have long clashed. Bulgaria is a signatory to the 2001 United Nations convention that outlaws commercial trade in underwater cultural heritage and sets out guidelines on such things as artifact recovery and public display.

Dr. Pacheco-Ruiz said the team had so far discovered and photographed 44 shipwrecks, and that more beckoned.

Which was the most important? Dr. Adams said that for him, a student of early European shipbuilding, the centerpiece was the medieval round ship. He said it evoked Marco Polo and city states like Venice. The ship, he added, incorporated a number of innovations that let it do more than its predecessors had and paved the way for bigger things to come.

“It’s not too much,” he said, “to say that medieval Europe became modern with the help of ships like these.”

Romanian ruling party chief says plans to move Israel embassy to Jerusalem

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OR REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

 

Romanian ruling party chief says plans to move Israel embassy to Jerusalem

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – The leader of Romania’s ruling Social Democrats said the government had approved a memorandum to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, one of the first countries to do so following the United States.

FILE PHOTO: Social Democrat Party leader Liviu Dragnea gestures after leaving the Romanian anti-corruption prosecutors headquarters in Bucharest, Romania, November 13, 2017. Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea/via REUTERS

U.S. President Donald Trump in December recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, infuriating Washington’s Arab allies and dismaying Palestinians who want the eastern part of the city as their capital.

Under Romanian legislation, a final embassy relocation decision belongs to centrist President Klaus Iohannis, who said he had not been consulted. The Romanian government and foreign ministry did not immediately confirm the information.

“Yesterday, the government adopted a memorandum deciding to start the procedure to effectively move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Social Democrat leader and lower house speaker Liviu Dragnea told private television station Antena3 late on Thursday.

Dragnea keeps a tight grip on his party and is seen as effectively in charge of the cabinet.

Romanian President Iohannis said in a statement on Friday that he had not been informed or consulted about the decision and urged all government and political actors to show “responsibility and discernment regarding major foreign policy decisions that have strategic effects including on national security.”

“Such a decision must be taken only after consulting and securing the approval of all foreign policy and national security institutions, with a final decision belonging to the President, according to the constitution.”

On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “at least half a dozen” countries were considering moving their embassies to Jerusalem. The U.S. Embassy is due to relocate on May 14.

“Our gesture has a huge symbolic value … for Israel, a state with an unbelievably large influence in the world and with which we have had a special relationship for many years,” Social Democrat leader Dragnea said.

“Moving the embassy to Jerusalem can and I believe will bring short, medium and long-term benefits for Romania and we must use this huge chance and opportunity.”

Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Toby Chopra

Bucharest, a hostile city?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘DILEMA VECHE’)

 

Bucharest, a hostile city?

October 4, 1996: With my fingers tightly seated on the handle of the wooden suitcase, I present myself at the gate of the unit for the satisfaction of the military service. The plutonier Potrichnich, responsible for the “accommodating” of the recruits, has revealed each of us. In our platoon of Terriers * there are only two Bucharest, philologists both (Happens!): Gabi and I, the stalk of stature. Pumpkin rejoiced: “These two tiny linguists! You are buccaneers, yes ?! Let me give you sectors! That close-up bald bar, the piglet in the pigs! I said, “I made you the trick of my head!” And he made: all the “period” (the first month of the army) I washed the closes of the unit, and Gabi guarded the pigs’ cages (brackets: our unity, from the boiler, and the pigs had to be guarded day and night so as not to steal the villagers who used to jump over the fence. Years before, he had robbed the pigs with all the coins, it was a huge scandal). Being merciful, a Christian soul, Potrirniche was changing our sectors every week: I was guarding my swine, Gabi giggled dry feces. I was wrong, but the other was the problem.

He was like Potrichiche, he was a platoon of trade; but our platoon colleagues treated us like “Bucharest tricks,” though Gabi and I were hitting us, I do not know how, the worst people anyone can imagine. Two nations, two wretched, and small, and poor, and poor, and habarni in battle, and without resistance to alcohol. However, we have always been part of this “ass of the donkey,” that is, we have been given a certain attribute of the city, which we two were completely deprived of. The “trick” actually meant “the typical Bucharest hostility,” at least I understand it. In order to understand better (and because I admire Svetlana Aleksievici), I have gathered several answers from friends, to whom they give their first names (followed by their place of origin and current residence). I have a request: if the editorial publishes this text, I ask readers to briefly comment on their own experiences. Thank you!

“I got off the train in North Train Station, in the ’94, student, and as I got out of the station, a stray dog ​​bit me. From behind, he manages: he torn his big muscles. I asked the taxi drivers to take me to the hospital, he did not want one, because he was dirtying the bloodbath, and the one who took me pity asked me a triple fare to the Colentina hospital. There I went into the yard, I asked where he was, “the goalkeeper made a nod of his head, but he broke down a word on me. I’m going through the hospital yard, a pack of dogs running past me, more likely to hurt myself, and it probably had the smell of blood flowing from my leg. Painted and vaccinated, I went to the home with my hand; there they gave me a room that had nothing: no door, no windows, no cabinet, just the metal skeleton of a military bed. I left, I slept at the hotel, gave the next few days, almost all my money, I managed to get a room in another dorm. “(Mirel, Braila, Bucharest)

“For the first time, putting aside the idea of ​​a hostile city, closing my eyes and thinking of the first sensations of” Bucharest “I remember the Buzea family, which I invariably visited when I came. And it is a very pleasant memory … now, if I think about the fact that Bucharest is perceived as a hostile city, I tell you some of the memories that have built me ​​this picture: it was absolutely inconceivable for me to pass by a man and not to greet him or not to be greeted; here, as in any city, this is not practiced, and it hurts me to see indifferent people; the first time I went with the subway in ’83 when I came out and a young man from the subway told me: ‘Get out of hand, peasants, you’ve stepped on my feet’, free of charge with striking aggressiveness; when I came as a mature student, that is to college, in Bucharest there were all pockets of thieves (we were going a lot with the bus and going out clearly); there would be aggression in traffic felt when I started driving; communist districts and the perception of grayness. To be fair, I can say that I also have positive opinions from that time, but that’s on another occasion. “(Costica, Gura Teghii, Bucharest)

“Michael, you got me thinking about this problem … I was still thinking if I felt Bucharest hostile … and the answer is complicated. I came to college for 18 years, but I stayed at home, so many others like me. Indeed, at school, there was a separate group of Bucharest, but they were in the minority. I may have felt a hostile city when I looked for work. I did not have knowledge, I had no Bucharest friends to recommend, and so it was quite difficult for me to do first. Driving seemed a problem to you if you had provincial numbers: from the first I received horns, even though I was not wrong with anything, but I could just go slower. Otherwise, in the workplace, wherever I worked, my colleagues were mostly provincial like me, so there is no animosity. And I have to admit that besides Amalia, I have no other friend in Bucharest. But if I take after my husband, Bucharest, the locals are very much against the provinces. They have crowded the city, are uncivilized, uneducated … and the list can continue. I am the exception, of course! And here in Prague, at a distance, to see talks! The Bucharesters are overwhelmed, those in the province are peasants! Undoubtedly, however, the Provincials fought more for their position in Bucharest, and they learned more quickly to do it on their own, not being with their parents. That’s how much I had to say. “(Andreea, Braila, Prague) at a distance, see talks! The Bucharesters are overwhelmed, those in the province are peasants! Undoubtedly, however, the Provincials fought more for their position in Bucharest, and they learned more quickly to do it on their own, not being with their parents. That’s how much I had to say. “(Andreea, Braila, Prague) at a distance, see talks! The Bucharesters are overwhelmed, those in the province are peasants! Undoubtedly, however, the Provincials fought more for their position in Bucharest, and they learned more quickly to do it on their own, not being with their parents. That’s how much I had to say. “(Andreea, Braila, Prague)

“I know Bucharest has not been sympathetic from the beginning, but I preferred this. I came here for college; I passed the exam, got into the subway and went to the station. The stupid subway that left the Heroes has reached the Polytechnic. During this time I asked the people and tried to find my way to the station. I know I’m the most unlucky, I’ve got a train going in another direction, that the wagon I went to was without the speakers … I finally got fixed to buy another ticket, for the train after. We were coming from Constanta, a beautiful, peaceful city. It took me years to get used to the air in the capital and the noise. As long as I was in college, I had free subscription to the surface, I was worry-free everywhere; I have not found a place where I can hear my thoughts. The log is big, but he has no hidden colts; Behind the blocks there are more screams than I could imagine, and I was hardly approaching the central areas. Even in the area that is now a natural reserve I have not been able to find a place where I can say I do not hear the cars. I was saying I came for college. We got the scholarship. There was no home in the first year that there were no places, but I got room, we had a big average. They gave me a breakdown in Polygraphy. I was, I picked up the room and ran away. It was a luxurious room, because it had two shelves of eight possible. There was no door, no mattresses, the bed was more a metal frame, it had no window frames, no more painting, water or heat. We then found a high school home, a home separated by boys to the girls, the door locked at 22 o’clock, you were obligatory paying the table card, which was about the entire scholarship. I did, that I was among the few who woke up in the morning, and had a few cards to me; in the evenings there were smaller portions to get ladies with bigger bags. The list could continue well and well. But I realized with time that the city itself has no blame, I could go home anytime, that is, give up. Not in the city, not in college, but in challenges. It did not happen. Years have passed and I have come to see many cities, many countries. I found out that there is no place where milk and honey flow. I faced exactly the same challenges just on a much larger scale. It’s not too late to turn the globe and choose any city in the world, but today Constanza is not exactly what it once was. I think the hostility is not Bucharest. It is the hostility of the people who are in a position and who look at them from above all who want to be like them or above. It is about man’s resolve to make progress. Bucharest is a big city, still desirable for many. Qualifies for the hostile call. But I also talked to the Romanians who worked right in Italy and then felt the hostility of the locals because they were a threat as a number. I found people in Bristol who did not want to talk to me in principle. I found in Seattle people who did not let me venture from a road drawn on the carpet. I found people in Kuala Lumpur with whom I struck my hand and who then announced me in the 12th hour that they gave up the deal. You have caused me to remember the unpleasant events, but they are just one face of the coin.

 

“Question with closed answer, I forgot that this is what she says. In Chinese, there are sentences with ” ma”  in the queue … a new world may seem hostile, that is, the Doors: ” People are strange when you’re a stranger, faces look ugly when you’re alone.” .. OK, I answer, but I’d disappoint you deeply: I felt that the city welcomed me with open arms. It was love from the first, especially because I had been warned what a nasty thing to live among myths. Nope . It was extraordinary. I came after college, pushed by my mother, that in Sibiu I was unlikely to find decent decent service (“guanxi”, “in Chinese), mys did not have such a thing, so my sister and I were packed and sent to Bucharest. Here I got into one of the first corporations of the mid-1990s where we all were about the same age and we were from all corners of the country. If I did not come to Bucharest, I would have no idea what kind of people there are and other areas, very sympathetic and very open people. No trace of hostility on the contrary. In Sibiu I met people who lived there for 20 years and were still seen as Oltenians … in Bucharest I did not see this thing. And even if we were concerned that the Oleten or Transylvanian was a purely geographical thing, it did not involve hostility. Bucharest has opened my appetite for large, energy-rich cities, so we have arrived in a city with 25 million inhabitants. Big cities are indulgent with the Venetians, accepts it more easily than small towns. My opinion. “(Rosana, Sibiu, Shanghai)

“You want to make money for us, and you do not even give a beer call, as if you do not drink with these people anymore, since you’re famous. Well, I did not feel hostility when I arrived in the capital on my own in the 11th grade in 1990. It was through May, before the mining. I really liked people, they were friendly and nice. I did not know Bucharest at all, I landed myself by train, but people helped me get where I needed it. It may have been the euphoria after the Revolution. Instead, I noticed the hostility of those who wanted to take advantage of you, janitors, taxi drivers, currency changers, etc., which were very many to what I knew. And the sellers in the shops, who looked ugly and abhorrent to you, I suspect that they also behaved with the locals. In college I felt perfect, I stayed in the dorm, and there the inhabitants of Bucharest were minorities or were not at all. And our colleagues from Bucharest did not interfere with us, the provinces. They were staring up at us. But not all, with some I understood well. They were cheering in Regie, but the Bucharest people did not really participate. So did they just talk between them. Of course I was struggling with the corruption in the dorms, I think the administrator of a home earns thousands of dollars in the 90s. No hostility on this side, if you were making much money. The hostility of the locals is felt from time to time, but not from those who are from Bucharest, but from those who came here from Pantelimon or Adunatii Copaceni, looking at you from above, you, the provincial. Many do not realize that they still smell the cow and the sheep, they, the big city people. A sort of perceived hostility throughout the time would be to make sure the locals do not mix with the newcomers and keep a certain distance. But this is probably the case in any bigger city. That’s how it comes, we talk, we drink beer, we laugh, jokes, then everyone at his house. Some people do not even want to go out with you … “(Cristian, Reghin, Bucharest)

“I came in ’93. I did not feel hostility then. I felt hostile to him, but after the school years, when things became serious. But no taxi drivers or stray dogs have upset me, but the trick. And the trick is the mother of all hostilities. Otherwise, in Bucharest he laughs like nowhere else. And I’m not referring to the stupid laugh, the slum, you know what I mean; otherwise, Michael, I do not think I am the “witness” you need; the city did not seem to me like that, nor did it look like that. I was looking at the buildings, walking a lot. I liked the world, it seemed to me that people have style and that they can do and live a lot. Many of my books, theater, music, great concerns, seemed to be able to lead a life of intellect, whether veil or not. The city itself was the Capital. He could not think in terms of hostility, hospitality, facility, difficulty. Bucharest meant more than the inconveniences that you could meet, these were part of the life of any big city, I did not see anything bad or good in that. I liked the buildings, the air of the old houses, the private libraries, the long walks, the reveries … ergo, my testimony has no value, being too sentimental “(Andrei, Focşani, Bucharest)

* TR, that is, Reduced Term. Graduates of the faculty did only six months of military service.

Mihai Buzea is a journalist at Caţavencii.

Romania WWII: The White Squadron

(FROM GOOGLE+: MEMORIES OF LIGHT)

The White Squadron

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26 November 2014

In the pages prefacing Daniel Focşa’s writing, “The White Squadron”, Neagu Djuvara praises the author’s idea to reinstate, in historical order, the heroic deeds from the time of the war, “obscured or twisted until yesterday, so that, most of the times, the new generations completely ignore them”.

Being one of the infantrymen who walked their boots through hundreds of miles of dust or mud all the way to Odessa, Neagu Djuvara pays tribute to aviators, which he considers super humans not daring to compare himself to: “And when it comes to women aviators, my admiration is even higher”. Although regarded with wonderment or even disbelief, “there were a few extraordinary characters, like in the novels”, says the well-known Romanian historian, diplomat, philosopher, journalist and novelist, inciting us to marvel at the proverbial scenes, at the risks these heroines took, at the challenges and physical suffering they went through all the way to Kuban or above the hell of Stalingrad and read this book as a novel.

We open, therefore, a serial-story columns through which we try to pull out from the old chest-of-drawers true stories about the history of aviation, unique and savory details coming straight from the source, which come from the very ladies who wrote the legend of the White Squadron, hoping that these testimonies will inspire younger generations…

In 1938, the political atmosphere in Europe was increasingly tense – the armies of the Third Reich were marching, USSR threats, simultaneous and combined with those of Germany’s, resulted in frequent incidents caused by Soviet Russia at the border, pushing the Romanian Army to take important measures. Among other things, at the military maneuvers which took place in the fall of that year, in Galaţi, five aviatrixes (Mariana Drăgescu, Virginia Duțescu, Nadia Russo, Marina Știrbey and Irina Burnaia) had been invited to participate, for the first time, to be put to test and see how they would manage under war. It was about simulating dogfights, liaison missions against the clock, night flights – a sort of playing in the air, would say some; but it was one as serious as possible. And the fact that these women managed admirably the two weeks of exercises determined the headquarters to declare them fit for mobilization.

At the end of these maneuvers, Marina Ştirbei, daughter of Prince George Ştirbei and cousin of the more famous aviator Constantin Cantacuzino, revealed to her flying comrades her intention of setting up a squadron of sanitary planes with female pilots only. By that time, she had won a certain number of aviation competitions in the country and had even put her talent to the test, covering over two thousand miles in a raid that took her all the way to the Scandinavian countries. She would keep her word and, as the war became a certainty, Marina Ştirbei submitted a memorandum for the creation of this squadron to the Ministry of Air. It was approved on June 25, 1940, and so, the highest rated female pilots took a step forward, joining the army as lieutenants and getting access to Polish manufactured RWD-13 airplanes.

The squadron was registered in the Romanian Army documents under the “Sanitary Squadron” title and its purpose on the Eastern Front was to transport seriously wounded soldiers, who needed immediate surgery. In April 1942, the squadron will be renamed “Easy Transport Squadron 108”, but entered public consciousness as “The White Squadron”, a nickname disputed by several authors, which, in fact, belongs to the Italian journalist Curzio Malaparte, the author of the book “Coup d’état: the technique of revolution”. While he was researching on the Romanian front, he was inspired by the color of the Polish aircraft, originally painted white, with the red cross on the fuselage and the wings, which is why soon enough they have earned the reputation of air ambulances. Because the Soviets did not respect that these were sanitary planes and bombarded them, the small RWD-13 were painted in camouflage colors later on.

During World War II, Romania was the only country in the world that had sanitary airplanes piloted by women, although Marina Ştirbei’s idea had started from Finnish paramilitary Lotta Svärd group, made up exclusively of women, auxiliary to the army.

The “White Squadron” aviators were not exactly fighters, but their missions in hostile airspace were as dangerous as possible, always being stalked by antiaircraft artillery, by the isolated shooters and, especially, by the sharks of the air which had, however, much better equipped devices than theirs. They made quite an impression at the time and even became, in 1944, subject and inspiration source for the Romanian-Italian artistic movie “Squadriglia Bianca”, directed by Ion Sava, starring Claudio Gora, Lucia Sturdza-Bulandra and Mariella Lotti, former King Michael’s girlfriend. With or without this movie, there was still not enough done to reveal the true value of this adventure called “The White Squadron”. Moreover, after the communist regime was installed, the fate was so unfair to these daring girls, so famous during the war that not only they entered complete anonymity, but they even ended up in prison, or in the best case they were removed from aviation and marginalized.

It seems, therefore, natural to dig in the past and bring their admirable front experience to the light. The first page of our serial is dedicated to Mariana Drăgescu, so make sure you do not miss it in our next edition.

Translated by Ancuţa Gălice

Slavery in today’s MENA and in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF MENA-FORUM)

 

THE GLOBAL SLAVERY INDEX 2016 published this information page “as violent conflict escalates and political, economic, social and security spill overs destabilise many countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the profile of victims vulnerable to modern slavery has shifted. Though MENA continues to act as a destination for men and women from Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa who are attracted to the region with promises of well-paying jobs, increasingly Middle Easterners themselves faced exploitation and slavery in 2016. Victims were identified as forced recruits in state and non-state armed groups, as victims of forced marriage and victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Foreign and local citizens were subject to forced labour and debt bondage in service sectors such as domestic work, cleaning, and as drivers and restaurant workers, as well as in construction, agriculture and mechanics.” Slavery in today’s MENA and in the world generally still escapes the media’s radar.

 

In effect, this sort of affairs is not restricted to the MENA region only as per today the Construction Index of the United Kingdom published this short but significant article on the same but sad subject.

A Romanian man has been arrested on suspicion of modern slavery offences relating to labour abuse on London construction sites.

Above: One man has been arrested

The government’s Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), supported by police, carried out simultaneous swoops on five homes in Barking, Walthamstow, Forest Gate, Ilford and Newham as part of an investigation into the exploitation of eastern European workers.

One man is in custody on suspicion of modern slavery offences and more than 50 people are being treated as ‘vulnerable’ following the early morning raids yesterday (21st February).

The GLAA raids were in response to allegations of labour abuse on construction sites across the capital, threats of violence and false identities being used.

A number of people, all believed to be Romanian or Moldovan nationals, were found to be living at the five addresses that were raided. In one terraced house 23 people were found to be living in cramped conditions, including six women and two young children. Ten have been taken to a reception centre, including two 15-year-old boys.

The arrested man, a Romanian national in his 20s, is being held at Forest Gate Police Station for questioning.

GLAA senior investigating officer Tony Byrne said: “Our capability to investigate and take action to disrupt alleged criminality and labour abuse is increasing. Our priority is to protect vulnerable workers from exploitation and today’s action demonstrates we will act when our intelligence suspects labour offences are being committed.”

The Crown Prosecution Service is this week hosting a three-day summit on modern slavery and human trafficking, with representatives from 15 countries.

The History of Dracula’s Castle

(I GOT THIS ARTICLE FROM GOOGLE +, FROM THE POST OF STANLEY OUL)

 

The History of Dracula’s Castle

Everyone knows something about Dracula, the famous character from Bram Stocker’s book that had such a great resonance. What not everyone knows is that Bran Castle is the place that inspired the writer. The truth is that Bram Stocker had never been to Romania, and he built the entire story by inspiring from books and pictures that described Vlad III Dracul, (c. 1431 – 1476), and the Bran Castles’ stories. His character is built following the stories about Vlad Tepes and his cruelty.

Bran Castle was first mentioned in documents in 1377 when it was built by the Saxons of Kronstadt at their own expense and labor force. But this beautiful medieval castle is older than that. Initially, it was built as a wooden castle guarding an important mountain pass by the Teutonic Knights in 1212, when King Andrew II of Hungary invited them into the small but strategically sensitive Burzenland in return for guarding the southeastern border of the Kingdom of Hungary against the Kipchak-Cuman confederation.

The Teutonic Knights had quite a different point of view and planned to establish their own, independent state in the area. King Andrew II, (1175 – 1235, king of Hungary from 1205 until his death), quickly realized what was going on, and in 1225 he expelled the Teutonic Order from his realm, before it managed to grow powerful enough to oppose him. In this tim, this wooden fortified settlement was called Dietrichstein, and it was destroyed by the Mongols in 1242 during the Mongol Invasion.

As time passed, and military conflicts intensified, the castle was heavily fortified and was used over the ages as a defensive position against the invading Ottoman Empire. Despite popular belief, Vlad III Dracul had little to do with the castle, although he passed through the area occasionally. In fact, it has never been the property of Wallachian prince. He may have stayed at Bran for a few days (not even that is so certain, though), but it was definitely not his castle.

Besides playing an important military role, Bran Castle also had a commercial purpose. Being placed at the border of two important regions, it provided safe passage from one location to another, thus improving the relations and economic development of both Wallachia and Transylvania. Bran remained a key military strategic position at the crossroads of the Kingdom of Hungary, the Principality of Moldavia and the Principality of Wallachia up until the 18th century.

In 1917, the town of Brasov donated the castle to the Emperor of Austro-Hungary, Franz Joseph I, (1830 – 1916). After the end of World War I, the castle has been donated once again by the city of Brasov, but this time to Queen Mary Of Romania (1875 – 1938; Marie of Edinburgh). After her death, the castle passed to Princess Ileana’s property, (1909 -1991), Queen Mary’s daughter, and the archduke Anton of Habsburg’s wife, (1901 – 1987).

After the forced abdication of Romania’s Royal Family in 1947, the castle passed into Romanian state property, and in 1950 was granted as National Monument. In 2005, the Romanian government passed a special law allowing restitution claims on properties illegally expropriated, such as Bran, and thus a year later the castle was awarded ownership to Dominic von Habsburg, (born in 1937), the son and heir of Princess Ileana. Nowadays, it is a museum.

The castle has 57 rooms and a secret passageway leading up to the watch towers. It is situated on a cliff at an elevation of 762 meters (2500 feet), and is surrounded by valleys and hills. Much of the furniture and the artwork that hangs from the castle’s walls today belonged to the Queen Marie.

Photo: The Bran Castle, situated near Bran and in the immediate vicinity of Braşov in Romania.

http://www.bran-castle.com/

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Bran_Castle

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